NY Post - February 22, 2012by MITCHEL MADDUX
A Brooklyn federal judge yesterday moved toward appointing a special team of lawyers to help him award as much as $65 million to minority firefighter applicants who were the victims of departmental discrimination.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis issued an order asking all parties involved in the US Justice Department's civil-rights suit against the FDNY to submit names of lawyers -- called "special masters'' because they are appointed by the court -- who they want to adjudicate the discrimination claims.
Thousands of minorities who took the firefighter exam and were not hired "due to the city's discriminatory practices" could be eligible to collect after proving they suffered economic losses, Justice Department lawyers wrote yesterday to the judge.
The potential financial hit to the city is estimated at up to $65 million.
The city has been under court order to boost the hiring, training, and promotions of minorities in the 11,000-person Fire Department, which is overwhelmingly white, since Garaufis last year found a "pattern and practice of discrimination against black firefighter candidates."